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Hollow Justice in an Age of Government-Sanctioned Tyranny
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Hollow Justice and Courts of Order in an Age of Government-Sanctioned Tyranny

By John Whitehead [TABLE="class: wwscontent, width: 100%"]
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[TD="width: 50%"]10/22/14[/TD]
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"TheConstitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off thebacks of the people."--Justice William O. Douglas

With every passing day, it becomes moreapparent that we live in an age of hollow justice, with government courts,largely lacking in vision and scope, rendering narrow rulings focused on theletter of the law. This is true at all levels of the judiciary, but especiallyso in the highest court of the land, the U.S. Supreme Court, which is seeminglymore concerned with establishing order and protecting government agents thanwith upholding the rights enshrined in the Constitution.
Given the turbulence of our age, with its policeoverreach, military training drills on American soil, domesticsurveillance, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, wrongfulconvictions, and corporatecorruption, the need for a guardian of the people's rights has never beengreater.
Yet when presented with an opportunity to weighin on these issues, what does our current Supreme Court usually do? It ducks. Prevaricates.Remainssilent. Speaks to the narrowest possible concern. More often than not, it givesthe government and its corporate sponsors the benefit of the doubt. Rarely dothe concerns of the populace prevail.
Every so often the justices toss a bone tothose who fear they have abdicated their allegiance to the Constitution. Too often, however, as I document in AGovernment of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, the SupremeCourt tends to march in lockstep with the police state.
In recent years, for example, the Court hasruled that police officers can use lethal force in car chases without fear oflawsuits; police officers can stop cars based only on "anonymous" tips; SecretService agents are not accountable for their actions, as long as they're donein the name of security; citizens only have a right to remain silent if theyassert it; police have free reign to use drug-sniffing dogs as "search warrantson leashes," justifying any and all police searches of vehicles stopped on theroadside; police can forcibly take your DNA, whether or not you've beenconvicted of a crime; police can stop, search, question and profile citizensand non-citizens alike; police can subject Americans to virtual strip searches,no matter the "offense"; policecan break into homes without a warrant, even if it's the wrong home; andit's a crime to not identify yourself when a policeman asks your name.
What a difference nine people can make.
The Roberts Supreme Court's decisions in recentyears, characterized most often by an abject deference to government authority,military and corporate interests, have run the gamut from suppressing freespeech activities and justifying suspicionless strip searches and warrantlesshome invasions to conferring constitutional rights on corporations, whiledenying them to citizens.
Contrast that with the Warren Court(1953-1969), whose rulings were instrumental in shoring up critical legalsafeguards against government abuse and discrimination. Without the WarrenCourt, there would be no Miranda warnings, no desegregation of the schools andno civil rights protections for indigents. Yet more than any single ruling,what the Warren Court did best was embody what the courts should alwaysbe--institutions established to intervene and protect the people against thegovernment and its agents when they overstep their bounds.
Justice Douglas, who served on the Warren Court,was particularly vocal in warning against a domineering, suspicious,totalitarian, police-driven surveillance state. His words stand as a potentreminder that while the technology and social concerns of Douglas' day haveundergone dramatic transformations in our time, the rights we are struggling tosafeguard remain the same, as do the threats posed by the government.
For instance, Douglas had plenty to say about"the privacy of our citizens and thebreach of that privacy by government agents":
Weare rapidly entering the age of no privacy, where everyone is open tosurveillance at all times; where there are no secrets from government. Theaggressive breaches of privacy by the Government increase by geometricproportions. Wiretapping and "bugging" run rampant, without effective judicialor legislative control. Secret observation booths in government offices andclosed television circuits in industry, extending even to rest rooms, arecommon. Offices, conference rooms, hotel rooms, and even bedrooms are "bugged"for the convenience of government.
Speaking to the ramifications of indiscriminategovernment surveillance, Douglaswarned:
Oncesanctioned, there is every indication that their use will indiscriminatelyspread. The time may come when no one can be sure whether his words are beingrecorded for use at some future time; when everyone will fear that his mostsecret thoughts are no longer his own, but belong to the Government; when themost confidential and intimate conversations are always open to eager, pryingears.
Whenthat time comes, privacy, and with it liberty, will be gone. If a man's privacycan be invaded at will, who can say he is free? If his every word is taken downand evaluated, or if he is afraid every word may be, who can say he enjoysfreedom of speech? If his every association is known and recorded, if theconversations with his associates are purloined, who can say he enjoys freedomof association? When such conditions obtain, our citizens will be afraid toutter any but the safest and most orthodox thoughts; afraid to associate withany but the most acceptable people. Freedom as the Constitution envisages itwill have vanished.
Perhaps the greatest difference between JusticeDouglas and his contemporaries and those who occupy the bench today can befound in his answer to a government that refuses to listen to its citizen orabide by the rule of law. "We must realize that today's Establishment is theNew George III," noted Douglas. "Whether it will continue to adhere to histactics, we do not know. If it does, the redress, honored in tradition, is alsorevolution."
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass

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